Rob Ford's friend faces drug charges

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with Alexander Lisi, right, in an Air Canada Centre elevator with...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with Alexander Lisi, right, in an Air Canada Centre elevator with unidentified hockey fans during a Maple Leafs-Bruins game Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (JOE WARMINGTON/QMI Agency Files)

Chris Doucette and Joe Warmington, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford appears to be standing by a close friend who faces drug charges after being arrested Tuesday night in the city's west end.

"He's a friend. He's a good guy," Ford said of Alexander Lisi, 35, on Wednesday in an Etobicoke gas station parking lot near his home. “And I don't throw my friends under the bus."

The mayor's pal, also known as Sandro and Dro, was arrested along with Jamshid Bahrami, 47, at a plaza a few blocks away.

Lisi is charged with trafficking marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Bahrami is charged with possession of cocaine, three counts of trafficking marijuana, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

The mayor said he was "shocked" to learn of his friend's arrest.

"I'm surprised, I'm very surprised," Ford said. "And obviously it's before the courts, so I can't say much."

Ford described Lisi as “straight and narrow.”

"I've never once seen the guy drink, I've never once seen him do drugs, so I'm surprised."

The mayor didn't deny claims that neighbours have seen him visiting Lisi's home nearby two or three times a week.

Lisi was freed on $5,000 bail Wednesday. He tried to evade the media as he exited the courthouse, bolting out the back door to face a phalanx of photographers and reporters.

He blocked one photographer with a paper. When the photographer pushed it aside, Lisi struck him.

Lisi refused to answer questions, staring blankly ahead and walking briskly.

"I just want to go home," said Lisi.

The arrest brings allegations Ford was caught on video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine back to the forefront.

It's not known if the police investigation that netted Lisi is related to the investigation into the alleged video.

Ford has denied being an "addict" and said he will not comment on a video that "doesn't exist." Two reporters from the Toronto Star and one from American website Gawker claim to have seen the video.

In the weeks following the video allegations, police conducted the Project Traveller raids during which officers arrested dozens of suspects and seized drugs and guns, as well as laptops and cellphones.  

In an August interview with the QMI Agency, Ford denied reports that Lisi had acted his driver or security guard. He also shot down reports Lisi had been searching for the alleged crack video.

— With files from Don Peat and Sam Pazzano


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